Rogersville’s Nostalgia Village

May 13, 2008

It takes a couple to raise a village.

Otis and Kathy Eldridge, who live outside of Rogersville, have spent several years assembling “Memory Lane,” a collection of buildings that represent an homage to the 1950s and 60s. Beginning with a country store, they have erected a Studebaker Diner, a Texaco station, a body shop, bowling alley, and much more.

Photo by Tom Raymond

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Rogersville’s African-American heritage

March 8, 2008

In the days of segregation, Tennessee’s Black communities had their own school buildings, which along with churches served as centers of community life. While many of these small-town structures fell into disrepair or were torn down after school districts integrated, some survive and have taken on new life as museums that provide a glimpse into all-black eduction.

The most prominent such school in East Tennessee has to be the Green McAdoo Cultural Center in Clinton. Rogersville has its museum in the Price Public Community Center and Swift Museum.

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Arrowmont: life after Gatlinburg

September 15, 2008

As mentioned earlier in this blog, the Arrowmont School of Arts & Crafts should get out of Gatlinburg. Although the settlement school that grew into Arrowmont remains an important part of the town’s heritage, the people who run Gatlinburg have no place for history–they see the town as one big cash register. Arrowmont no longer fits this gauntlet of hucksterism, and the sooner the school leaves, the sooner developers can throw up more waterparks and T-shirt shops and tattoo parlors on what used to be the Arrowmont campus.

The question, then, is where should Arrowmont go?

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‘Mayberry’ in Tennessee

June 12, 2008

East Tennessee seems to be the place for people who want to create their own little utopias–antique-filled backyard paeans to the past. Just down the road from one such place in Rogersville lies Mayberry, a tribute to the Andy Griffith classic TV show. This one was built by John and Ruby Hitch and stands in the Seymour community south of Knoxville.

Photo courtesy of Sisters of the Silver Sage

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Hale Springs Inn: the walls come tumbling down

February 25, 2008

Rogersville’s Hale Springs Inn, which has served presidents going back as far as Andrew Jackson, is undergoing a renovation project aimed at updating the rooms and putting in a state-of-the-art kitchen. The Inn sits right on the main drag in Rogersville, and is the most impressive building in that town.

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When builders got to an 1870s addition to the historic structure, however, they found that they don’t build hotels like that anymore. Thank goodness. Sometime during the night in January, the wall came tumbling down. Read the rest of this entry »


Funeral processions driving into history

November 5, 2006

Visitors to Tennessee are sometimes surprised to see funeral processions–a hearse, vehicles bearing flowers, and a long line of mourners in cars and trucks–drive slowly through intersections, no matter whether the light is red or green, with a police escort front and rear.

This old time Southern practice is declining as cities get larger and police departments have more pressing duties.  In small towns, however, the funeral procession lingers, and local motorists will to the side of the road while the caravan passes. 

One high school lad in Rogersville bought a used hearse, and every day after school he and his buddies would stage a mock funeral procession, with locals dutifully pulling over, until authorities noticed that these particular processions always began at the school and ended at a local eatery. 

Busy officers lack time to clear the road for life’s final journey – Nashville, Tennessee – Friday, 11/03/06 – Tennessean.com